If there was a single word I would pick to describe how my mother felt after Hannah and I told her that we were pregnant, I think "elation" does a pretty good job. After all, I am the oldest of four, and the last to have a child of my own. My mother had waited 36 years to see her first-born child become a parent himself, and she could hardly contain her excitement knowing that in just a few months, she would be holding her next grand-child in her arms.
My mother had a wonderful sense of tradition, and one the things that she has always done for her grand-children was to crochet a blanket that was used to bring the little new life home in. Kaylin Ann is her 8th grand-child, and she was excited to get started on a new receiving blanket. I can recall being in her apartment in January of 2010, seeing the bag of crochet hooks and skeins of yarn that would be transformed into Kaylin's blanket.
A new grand-child on the way made the discovery of a tumor on her pancreas much more cruel. It was bad enough that the doctor told her she had terminal cancer, and that she didn't have much time left. Six months was the best estimation we had. Now, she was worried that the inevitable would arrive before little Kaylin did. That was in January... six months from then would be July. With an iron-strong spirit to endure, she told the oncologist that her goal was to be in Iowa on July 10th, Kaylin's due date.
Hannah and I had flown to Oregon to be with mom when she had surgery to remove the tumor - an unsuccessful procedure as the cancer had already spread to her liver. Only two weeks had passed after we returned home to Iowa before my sister Sarah called to tell me that mom had taken a drastic turn for the worse. It was time to return to Oregon. The bag of yarn was still there, a six inch strip of blanket complete.
As I talked to Sarah about what was to come, what preparations needed to be made, and who would complete which tasks, I felt I was conducting a business meeting, rather than preparing to mourn the loss of my mother. Maybe it was subconsciously intentional, placing a buffer between the emotions I was feeling, and the expression on my face and words I spoke. In a single sentence though, Sarah cut straight through the defenses when the topic of Kaylin's blanket came up.
"Mom isn't going to be able to finish Kaylin's blanket, so I'm going to finish it for her - for mom and for Kaylin".
It's curious the things that strike at the heart when you don't expect them to. I was dealing with the worst news of my life with efficiency and steely resolve. The thing that nearly brought me to my knees was that Kaylin would still have her blanket.
Sadly, the very thing that mom was worried about is exactly what happened. She lost her struggle to stay with us on March 29th, 3 months prior to Kaylin's arrival. Before she passed, she told us that she was not afraid to die, that the only thing she was afraid of is that her grand-children would not remember her. Our pledge to her is that her grand-kids will most definately know Grandma Linda.
So, Kaylin, when you are reading this many years from now, when the important things of your teenage years seem much smaller and trivial compared to what is important to you now, look at the blanket that Grandma Linda and Aunt Sarah made for you. Look in the corner where the loops are little bit tighter than in the rest of the blanket. That is the part that your grandmother did, when she was barely strong enough to walk on her own, but still had the strength to do something special just for you. Know that each loop represents the unending love that your grandmother had for you, even before you were born.